How often have I heard these statements in my life! Let’s face it, bad things happen, and very often to good people too. Often we wonder why are there injustices in the world. Often we ask “why?” … and remain without an answer. The temptation to give up can be real and huge.
In today’s second reading St Paul urges Timothy to hold on to what he had received in his childhood. He reminds him how the Scared Scriptures can be a real source of help in all times. The Word of God never tells us that, if you are a believer, you will never go through hard times. What it assures us of is that evil never has the last word. Undoubtedly, the central message of the bible is in the Easter-event of Jesus. It is the passion-death-and-resurrection story. Evil is very real there. The story makes it a point not to deny it or underestimate its destructive effects. Also, the presence of injustice cannot be denied. Perhaps the words of the “converted” thief crucified with Jesus sums it all up, when he addresses his colleague from the cross: “we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Yet, we know that the story does not end on the cross. There is the resurrection, the empty tomb, the victory over all that is evil. It makes sense, therefore, that today the Church takes the opportunity to remind us to be persistent, to never give up. All three readings point in that direction. It is a persistence in the belief that justice will prevail.
The scriptures even give us a very effective tool which helps us not to give up: prayer. When we talk about prayer we are not merely referring to the formal prayers which we learn by heart. It is a way of living, an attitude which we develop in our life. Prayer is my relationship with God. Like any other loving relationship, it is not merely made up of formal petitions or beautiful talk. It is, rather, being there for and with the other. It is having the other constantly present in one’s mind and heart. Like any other relationship, it either grows or dies out as time goes by. It’s a dynamic relationship, and never stays the same. When Paul, in one of his letters to the Thessalonians, tells us to “pray without ceasing”, he is not telling us to be constantly on our knees, or in church, or reading our prayer books, 24 hours a day! He is, rather, urging us to enter into this loving relationship with our God, to never give up even when the “other” seems silent or aloof, or perhaps when our well seems to have run dry.
Moses did get tired of praying, in our first reading. Aaron and Hur came to his help, and eventually victory over the evil forces was achieved. Sometimes, we have to be humble enough to ask for help. This is the beauty of community, of knowing that I am not alone. Not unlike Moses, there are times in my life when I need the help of others in my prayer life. It would be stupid and selfdefeating of me to try to go it alone.
Finally, let us listen to what Paul says to his friend Timothy when he urges him to proclaim the message, to share what he had himself received. On this Mission Sunday, let us, too be persistent in sharing with others the beauty of the gift which we have received, the gift of our faith.